NSC 20/1 - US Objectives with Respect to Russia
- Publication date
Original text of document and re-print from:
Thomas H. Etzold and John Lewis Gaddis, eds.,
Containment: Documents on American Policy and Strategy,
Thanks to http://www.sakva.ru/Nick/NSC_20_1.html for preserving this
U.S. OBJECTIVES WITH RESPECT TO RUSSIA
August 18, 1948
[Source; Records of the National Security Council on deposit in the Modern Military Records Branch, National Archives, Washington. D.C.]
NSC 20/1 originated in response to a request from Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal for a "comprehensive statement of national policy'" with regard to the Soviet Union, on the grounds that until such a statement was prepared, "no logical decisions can be reached as to the proportion of our resources which should be devoted to military purposes. . . ..'' (*1) Drafted by the Policy Planning Staff, this document represented the most complete exposition up to that time of the objectives the policy of containment was supposed to accomplish.
(*1). Forrestal to Sidney W. Souers, July 10, 1948, quoted in NSC 20, "Appraisal of the Degree and Character of Mllilary Preparedness Required by the World Situiilion," July 12, 1948, Foreign Relations of the United Stales: 1948, I (part 2) 589-592.
The document established two basic goals for U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union: (1) reduction of the power and influence of the U.S.S.R. to the point that they would no longer threaten international stability; and (2) accomplishment of a fundamental change in the theory and practice of international relations as applied by the Soviet govemment. Unlike NSC 7 (Document 20), NSC 20/1 stressed the distinction between the Soviet Union and the international communist movement, and, in line with the reasoning in PPS 35 (Document 21), held out the possibility of driving a wedge between the two of them as a means of implementing U.S. policy objectives.
NSC 20/1 emphasized the desirability of achieving containment's desired results by means short of war, although it recognized the possibility that war might come, whether by inadvertence or design. The final portion of the document dealt with the question of what U.S. policy should be in that eventuality. It is noteworthy for its stress on the neutralization, rather than the elimination, of Soviet power, and for its implied rejection of the World War II doctrine of unconditional surrender.
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